“A well-spent day brings happy sleep.” – Leonardo da Vinci
While a day spent camping and exploring nature is very well-spent indeed, many RV mattresses are not conducive to a night of happy sleep. When retreating to their RVs to get away from it all, vacationers want to return rested and refreshed. Those who live in their RVs full-time will begin to see their health suffer if they are not able to sleep well in their homes on wheels. Whether for a weekend away or the long-term, RV owners want a good night’s sleep at the end of the day. It is a major reason to invest in an RV rather than camping in a tent. Yet RV mattresses have a reputation for providing anything but the comfort and rest that campers desire. When the snap-crackle-pop in the morning is heard more from your back than your cereal bowl, it is time to consider investing in a new RV mattress.
At first glance, shopping for a new RV mattress can seem very overwhelming. There is a seemingly endless variety of sizes, types, materials, and features. Prices can range from about $100 to well over $2000. Finding the best RV mattress is very personal and each individual will have different needs and expectations for his or her mattress. That is why it is important to learn more and make an informed choice of a mattress that will hopefully bring you many nights of happy sleep.
- 1 Reasons to Buy a New RV Mattress
- 2 How are RV Mattresses Different?
- 3 RV Mattress Sizing
- 4 Types of RV Mattresses
- 5 Special Considerations
- 6 Where to Buy an RV Mattress
- 7 Recommended Models
- 8 Final Thoughts
Reasons to Buy a New RV Mattress
It can be tempting to save the time and money and just endure the current mattress a little longer, especially if your RV isn’t your primary residence. But even on vacation, or perhaps especially on vacation, sleeping well is essential to your overall well-being. If your sleep doesn’t feel restful, or if you are waking up in pain, a new mattress is worth the investment of your time and money. Whether you are spending your days hiking or fishing or exploring a tourist attraction, you will enjoy it much more without a sore back or a stiff neck.
In a “sticks and bricks” home, the age and comfort of your mattress is the primary reason it might need to be replaced. In an RV, however, there are other factors that may influence your decision.
For a variety of reasons, RV mattresses are exposed to moisture and can be prone to mold and mildew. RVs are exposed to varying humidity levels that can be hard to manage, especially when they are stored. The mattresses are usually placed on a hard platform that limits air circulation. Even in a low-humidity environment, the temperature contrast of warm bodies sleeping on top and the cooler platform underneath causes condensation that can build up and provide a safe-haven for mold to thrive. A moldy mattress should be replaced.
Other reasons to get a new RV mattress include dissatisfaction with the standard mattress from the factory, particularly in bunks, or buying a previously owned RV and preferring not to sleep in a previously owned bed. In some cases, RV owners even consider changing mattresses to help reduce their gross vehicle weight. Different mattress sizes and materials can vary in weight by 25 pounds or more, which might not seem significant but small changes can add up quickly.
How are RV Mattresses Different?
Can’t I just buy a standard mattress that I like and put it in my RV? Why should I choose an RV mattress over an “ordinary” residential mattress? These are common questions and certainly, there are RVers on the road today sleeping on standard mattresses. While this may be a great option in some cases, most often it is not. Before considering a residential mattress, be sure to understand what makes RV mattresses different.
The most obvious difference is the size. While RV beds come in many shapes and sizes, few of them match a standard mattress size. RV manufacturers striving to balance space, weight, and comfort, need more options and flexibility than King, Queen, Full, and Twin. Some RVs have custom mattresses with specially rounded edges, cut-outs, or other space-saving solutions. See below for more information about RV mattress sizing.
The materials used in RV mattresses are chosen to maximize comfort while minimizing weight. Since weight is not a consideration for standard mattresses, and many RVers operate with small margins when it comes to weight capacity, an RV mattress is often the best choice. Weight is a critical consideration if your mattress is in a bedroom slide or on a bed storage lift. Exceeding recommended weights in these cases could void your warranty and require costly repairs.
Another important difference is that RV mattresses are generally thinner and more flexible than residential mattresses. This allows mattresses to bend enough to be maneuvered into the tight spaces of an RV bedroom. Flexibility is also essential in many RVs for accessing under bed storage areas or properly using bedroom slideouts.
Finally, there are different standards regarding flammability guidelines. Mattresses designed for use in recreational vehicles have to pass a stricter standard that is established by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMSS302). Most residential mattresses do not meet this standard, as those flammability guidelines are established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
RV Mattress Sizing
Shopping for an RV mattress should come with a dictionary of terms. Is the queen in your master bedroom a Standard Queen? An RV Queen? A Short Queen? Maybe an Olympic Queen? In the bunkroom, do you have a Three Quarter bed, or is it an RV full? A single RV Bunk and an RV Twin are not the same sizes. There are at least six “standard” sizes for an RV Bunk, and two for the RV Twin. How can you be sure to get a mattress that fits well?
The first step is to measure well. Measure the current mattress if you have it, but be sure to also measure the platform it will rest on. Exposure to the elements, such as fluctuating temperatures and UV rays, can cause mattresses to change size over time. There are always small size variations during production as well. Measuring the space is important to get a good fit.
Once you know what size mattress you need, consult this chart to find a mattress size that fits your space.
Dimensions (in inches)
72 x 75
72 x 80
72 x 84
76 x 80
60 x 80
60 x 75
60 x 74 (less common)
66 x 80
53 x 75
48 x 75
38 x 75
38 x 80
42 x 80
35 x 79
34 x 75
30 x 80
30 x 75
28 x 75
42 x 80
38 x 80
32 x 79
36 x 76
35 x 79
Truck mattresses are designed for sleeper-cab trucks, but sometimes RV manufacturers choose these sizes when it fits best in the design. Notice that a 38” x 80” mattress can be available as an RV Twin or a Truck mattress.
With such a range of sizes, it is unlikely that most RV owners would need a custom mattress. The exception is non-rectangular shapes or mattresses that require a rounded edge or a cut corner. These are usually custom ordered.
Types of RV Mattresses
There are many different types of RV mattresses available. Since there are advantages and disadvantages of each, you will need to determine your priorities in order to decide which mattress will best suit your needs.
- Advantages: Comfortable for most people due to even weight distribution relieve pressure points, common and easy to find.
- Disadvantages: Can be a costly alternative. The synthetic materials do not breathe well and many people find them very warm. These materials also use harsh chemicals and are not eco-friendly.
- Consider: Density ranges from 2.5 – 5.3 lbs per cubic foot. Higher density foam is more durable but doesn’t breathe well. Mid-range is recommended. Soy-based mattresses are available and are more eco-friendly. Look for a removable cover that can be washed.
- Advantages: Inexpensive choice, fewer manufacturer defects, can withstand more body weight.
- Disadvantages: Can develop ruts and impressions, especially lower density foam. Often 100% petroleum based, which is not eco-friendly. They take time to fully expand once in place and can go through a period of “off-gassing” when first opened.
- Consider: Density ranges from 1-2 lbs per cubic foot. Higher density foam will be more durable and can withstand more body weight over time. Soy-based mattresses are available and are more eco-friendly.
- Advantages: Comfortable, supportive, and pressure-relieving material. Natural latex is eco-friendly as it is made from sustainably sourced rubber tree sap. Resists mildew, mold, and dust mites. Durable and long-lasting. Does not need to be flipped or rotated.
- Disadvantages: Not the budget-friendly choice. Also a heavier choice, and they tend to be firm, which is a disadvantage to some. Latex is a common allergen.
- Consider: The advantages of latex are strongest in 100% natural latex. Synthetic or blended latex mattresses may deliver the same price tag but not the same benefits. They also tend to discolor and breakdown when exposed to heat and UV rays.
- Advantages: Similar to a blow-up extra mattress but covered with memory foam or latex for comfort. Dual air chambers allow partners to adjust the firmness to their individual preferences.
- Disadvantages: This high-end mattress comes with a high-end price tag. Needs to be assembled, which can be challenging. Susceptible to mold between layers. Air leaks are costly and time consuming to repair.
- Consider: The effects of altitude on air pressure will mean adjusting your mattress pressure as you travel.
- Advantages: As an old, trusted standard, many people are used to and comfortable on an innerspring or coil mattress. They generally have good air circulation, so the temperature is often more comfortable. Strong and durable with a variety of firmness levels available.
- Disadvantages: Weight – metal springs are heavy. The layers are a haven for dust mites, even compared with foam mattresses. With age, they can begin to sag or provide uneven support. No one wants to sleep with a spring poking them. Should be flipped or rotated regularly, which can be a strenuous task.
- Consider: A pocketed coil mattress will provide more separation of movement of partners than a continuous coil mattress.
- Advantages: Similar advantages to memory foam, as the foam, is very similar but infused with gel. Gel provides better circulation and assists with more comfortable sleeping temperatures. The gel also adds support and cushions pressure points. It springs back faster as you move.
- Disadvantages: These mattresses can be expensive. Over time the cellular structure of the gel beads begins to break down and the mattress needs to be replaced. Most companies do not disclose the composition of their synthetic gels.
Mattresses that are stowed when not in use need special considerations. Size, particularly thickness, is critical to ensuring the mattress can continue to be stowed as intended. Whether a bunk that folds down, a sofa-bed that folds out, or a Murphy bed concealed in a cabinet, these space-saving solutions offer little flexibility when replacing the mattress. A pop-up camper cannot be taken down and towed properly if the mattresses are too thick. Be sure to measure all dimensions carefully, and consider if the mattress needs to bend or fold in specific ways. When in doubt, consult the manufacturer’s customer service and/or a custom mattress professional.
Where to Buy an RV Mattress
RV Store or Showroom
There are many advantages to shopping in an RV store or other kinds of showrooms. The biggest advantage is having the chance to test different types of mattresses to help you decide which mattress best suits your needs before buying. You can expect a knowledgeable sales representative to assist you and answer your questions about the process. If the mattress you choose is in stock, you can have it immediately and the whole process can be relatively quick.
The clear disadvantage to a store or showroom is that the prices are often much higher than ordering online or by phone. Many stores will offer price-matching, so it’s always worth asking, but the store has higher overhead because of the showroom and personnel so that extra service usually comes with a cost.
Shopping online gives you access to many more mattress models that can fit in a showroom and the ability to quickly compare prices and selections from the comfort of your home at any time of day. If you know what kind of mattress you are looking for, you can expect to find the best price by shopping online.
Many online stores also have the option to shop by phone. This gives you some of the advantages of visiting a showroom. While you can’t test the mattress physically, you can talk to a professional and have help to determine the best type of mattress to fit your needs. Being able to ask questions and get personal guidance often makes ordering by phone a good compromise between shopping in person and online.
When shopping online or by phone, be sure to check the shipping rates and return policies. If shipping is not free, most of your savings will disappear in delivery costs for such a large and heavy item. What happens if something is damaged when it arrives? Or if you simply don’t like the mattress once you’ve slept on it? These are all important questions to have answered before ordering online.
Online/Ship to Store
Many chain stores sell RV mattresses through their websites, even if they are not available in their physical stores. Check your favorite big-box store, home improvement store, or furniture store for options. Having your purchase shipped to a store allows you to pick it up and inspect it locally before taking it home. Returns and warranty issues are easier to handle in a physical store, and if you choose a nationwide chain, you should be able to get help wherever you might travel with your RV. Be sure to check the shipping and return policies before placing your order, but this is often another good compromise, offering many of the benefits of shopping online and in a store.
Once you know what size you need, what kind of mattress best suits your priorities, and how you would prefer to buy it, it is time to select a mattress. These decisions have narrowed down your options, but there are still so many to choose from. Here are some well-rated mattresses in each category to start your search.
- Top Pick: Serenia Sleep Memory Foam RV mattress (6” or 8” thickness).
- Runner Up: Zinus Memory Foam (6” or 8” thickness).
More Memory foam reviews and comparisons:
- Top Pick: Everynight Deluxe Dual-sided Foam RV Mattress from North American Mattress Corp
- Runner Up: Canyon RV Mattress from Wilderness RV Mattresses (8” thickness)
- Top Pick: Dreamfoam Aspen RV Mattress (10” thickness)
- Runner Up: 8” Natural Latex Mattress from Mattress Insider
- Top Pick: Sleep Number RV Edition
- Runner Up: Innomax RV Digital Air Bed – Evolutions (8” thickness) or Harmony (10” thickness)
- Top Pick: Parklane Explorer RV Mattress
- Runner Up: Serta Kendridge Innerspring RV Mattresses (8” thickness)
- Top Pick: Dynasty Coolbreeze (8”, 10” or 12” thickness)
- Runner Up: PlushBeds Cool Bliss Gel RV Mattress (8” thickness)
Spending a few hours learning about all your RV mattress options can save you many hours of tossing and turning on the wrong mattress. Take your time and make a choice that both your back and your budget can be comfortable with. We wish you many nights of happy sleep on your new RV mattress!